West Auckland Admirals show their class in game 2

Both games this weekend between the Red Devils and the West Auckland Admirals proved to be one sided events confirming the Admirals deserved position at the top of the National League.  In a repeat performance of Saturday’s game the score line of 10 – 2 again reflected the calibre of this well drilled and aggressive attacking team.  Canterbury had their chances, but were simply outplayed by a team with the best goal scorers in the league and consistently quick and accurate passing, aggressive fore-checking and the ability to make the most of scrappy play.

In the first period Canterbury came out with some clear lessons learned from Saturday’s game, not giving the Admirals too much room to move with stronger marking, fore-checking and controlled passing.   However, in their first power play the Admirals maintained pressure in the Canterbury zone and after several powerful shots were rewarded with their first goal – a well constructed play with a passes by Ratcliffe and Toth  leading to a powerful slap shot from Spiller that found the back of the net.

Canterbury remained composed and urgent in defence for much of the remainder of the period and play moved from end to end with both teams incurring penalties, but preventing the other team from capitalising on its advantage.  Toward the end of the period the Admirals began to assert their superiority again, turning the puck over and quickly getting back over the blue line.  Just two minutes before the end of the period a soft turnover and a quick pass to the centre saw Henderson send the puck over the goalies shoulder to score.  This was to be Canterbury’s best period of play, but they ended 2 – 0 down with shots-on favouring the Admirals 17 to 10.

In the second period, the Red Devils had the advantage of more than 10 minutes of 5 on 4 play with Admirals players  serving minor penalties and those of  25 minutes and 10 minutes for more serious infringements.  Despite coming up with some excellent scoring opportunities the Devils were kept out by strong keeping and defensive play by the Admirals.  However, the Admirals were able to convert their opportunities and scored their first goal of the period in the 4th minute when Battini and Ratcliffe combined in taking the puck behind the Canterbury goal and flicking it to Toth in front of the net.  Twenty seconds later, a speedy move up the centre and quick passing from left to right culminated in a strong slapshot by Spiller which beat the goalie’s stick.

A third, short-handed, goal to the Admirals came in the 16th minute of the period.  This goal typified their aggressive play; not content to play defensively when short- handed for 5 minutes Battini turned the puck over and passed it to Toth who worked his way across the ice from right to left and fired off a shot through traffic to score goal number 5 for the Admirals.  The final goal of the period came from a power play in which the Admirals camped inside the Devils blue line setting up at least three good shots and eventually scoring from a melee following a rebound.  Anderson was the goal scorer and assists were credited to Battini and Radcliffe, but this was a real team effort.  By the end of the period the Admirals had outshot the Devils 23 to 12 and were up 6 – 0.

The final period of the game had a sense of déjà vu about it (see Saturday’s game report) with four more goals scored by the Admirals and two goals scored by Canterbury in the last ten minutes of play.  Goals for the Admirals were scored by Henderson, assisted by Toth and Jackson in the 5th minute,  by Ratcliffe, assisted by Toth and Roxborough in the 8th  minute, again by Ratcliffe assisted by Toth and McCleish in the 12th minute, and Henderson assisted by Ruddle and Harrop in the 13th minute.  Both Canterbury’s goals were scored by a determined Chris Eaden.  The first from an assist by Mason Kennedy and the second an individual goal scored on the backhand while going down in front of the goal.  Shots on goal for the period were 27 for the Admirals and 11 for The Devils.  The final score was 10 to 2 to the Admirals, suggesting they are looking like odds on favourites to take out the title this year.

Game report by Geoff Bland July 9th 2017